Editorial roundup

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Bush right to remain silent

In a few weeks, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether Beijing should host the Summer Games in 2008. Unable to bring itself to say something positive, the Bush administration has decided wisely to zip its lips.

Conservative Republicans, along with California House Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos, have pushed a resolution urging the rejection of China's bid. They want to punish China for human rights violations and for intercepting a U.S. spy plane.

The House International Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved the resolution. But Bush's official neutrality may persuade GOP leaders to squelch a full House vote.

That would be smart. There are more direct ways than grandstanding on the Olympics for the U.S. government to express displeasure over human rights in China.

The IOC should make up its mind without meddling by U.S. politicians. The Chinese are zealous about getting the Games, and will blame American subversion if their bid fails. The Bush administration is smart not to feed that perception and risk further straining relations on a decision that isn't its to make.

Today's San Jose Mercury News

Dick Cheney, man of mystery

What is Vice President Dick Cheney trying to hide? In the spring, when Cheney convened his energy task force, he sat down with executives from the oil, electricity and nuclear power industries and kept it all secret. He issued his report in May, but his fetish for secrecy about its origins continues.

The Government Accounting Office and two congressmen, Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., and John D. Dingell, D-Mich., are demanding that Cheney tell the public who was on the task force and what was said. The vice president is stonewalling.

The GAO sent Cheney a letter a week ago stating that he was legally obligated to come clean. The vice president's office claimed that its response, including some requested documents, was already in the mail. But the White House still refuses to divulge the names of the outside consultants it relied upon, so the accounting office is threatening to issue a "demand letter." It may even sue.

When Hillary Clinton cobbled together her health care plan in the early 1990s, she was rightly attacked for avoiding public scrutiny. Bill Clinton was a master of obfuscation during his presidency, regularly denying Congress documents and files. Now the Bush White House is following suit.

Whenever government officials try to work in secret, they inevitably end up drawing attention to what they're trying to conceal. Cheney's task force was arguably more efficient because it worked in quiet, but his stubborn refusal to release the names of those he consulted suggests that the meetings themselves were a charade, designed to rubber-stamp the wishes of his energy industry pals. It also suggests that the Bush White House has picked up some tricks from its predecessor. So much for open government.

Today's Los Angeles Times

A mother's descent into hell

What will society do with Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who in the throes of postpartum depression methodically drowned each of her five small children?

Do we want her committed to a psychiatric hospital, with the hope that she eventually will get better? Do we want her imprisoned for life or even put to death? ...

The public is told that Yates was gripped by the demons of postpartum depression following the birth of her youngest child, Mary, six months ago.

Yates, 36, a former nurse, told police that she drowned her children, Luke, 2, Paul, 3, John, 5, baby Mary and Noah, 7, one by one in the bathtub.

A day after the tragedy, Russell Yates, a NASA computer specialist, clutched a family portrait as he talked about how postpartum depression had gripped his wife.

... He said he and Noah had posted a list of techniques to help her deal with her stress on a board inside the home. He thought the medication his wife was taking would help her recover.

He doesn't know the woman who killed his kids. "What you see here and what you saw yesterday, it's not her," he said.

That undoubtedly is true. But how should society deal with Andrea Yates? Is she a criminal? Her kids are just as dead whether she's a conniving killer or a depression-consumed mom.

At the minimum, her actions should serve as a wake-up call for family members or friends who would minimize, ignore or rationalize the depression or erratic behavior of someone they know.

Tulsa World, June 25



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